Italy’s Societa Gestione Impianti Nucleari SpA (Sogin), which is responsible nuclear decommissioning, and the Ispra Joint Research Centre (JRC) have signed the deed for the definitive transfer to Sogin of the Ispra-1 reactor for its dismantling. The transfer implements a law which entered into force in May this year. 

Sogin is already responsible for dismantling Italy’s four nulcear plants – Trino, Caorso, Latina and Garigliano – and five fuel cycle research plants – Eurex in Saluggia, Fn in Bosco Marengo, Opec and Ipu in Casaccia and Itrec in Rotondella. 

Decommissioning of the Ispra-1 reactor is scheduled to take place in three phases: preliminary activities, reactor dismantling and final site remediation. Work will start only after approval of the decommissioning application by the National Inspectorate for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection, the application will be submitted by Sogin by January 2020.

The 5 MWt Ispra-1 research reactor is the latest version of the Chicago-Pile 5 series developed by Enrico Fermi. It was built by the National Nuclear Research Council between 1957 and 1958, and operated from 1959 to 1973. After the establishment of the European Atomic Energy Community (CEEA) in 1957, the Ispra Nuclear Studies Centre was sold by Italy to CEEA in 1959, for a period of 90 years as a Joint Research Centre (JRC). Ispra-1 was transferred to the management of Euratom in March 1963. The reactor was used for studies and research on core physics, new materials for the construction of commercial reactors, neutron fluxes and their interactions with living matter, and played a role in the formation of a new generation of technicians for European and Italian nuclear programmes.

With its 2018 Budget Law, the Italian government entrusted Sogin with decommissioning of Ispra-1. During 2018, Sogin prepared to take charge of the reactor, with its technicians working alongside the JRC staff to acquire the necessary knowledge of the site. In September, Sogin and the European Commission signed a deed for the transfer of ownership of Ispra-1 to Sogin.